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YELLOWKNIFE, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
Page 6534NORTHWEST TERRITORIES HANSARD May 11, 2011
Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly
6th SessionDay 516th Assembly
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Pages 6511 - 6546
The Honourable Paul Delorey, Speaker
Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories
Members of the Legislative Assembly
Hon. Paul Delorey
(Hay River North)
Mr. Glen Abernethy
Mr. Tom Beaulieu
Ms. Wendy Bisaro
Mr. Bob Bromley
Mrs. Jane Groenewegen
(Hay River South)
Mr. Robert Hawkins
Mr. Jackie Jacobson
Mr. David Krutko
Hon. Jackson Lafferty
Minister of Justice
Minister of Education, Culture and Employment
Hon. Bob McLeod
Minister of Human Resources
Minister of Industry, Tourism
Minister responsible for the
Public Utilities Board
Minister responsible for
Hon. Michael McLeod
Minister of Transportation
Minister of Public Works and Services
Hon. Robert C. McLeod
(Inuvik Twin Lakes)
Minister of Municipal and
Minister responsible for the
NWT Housing Corporation
Minister responsible for the Workers'
Safety and Compensation
Minister responsible for Youth
Mr. Kevin Menicoche
Hon. Michael Miltenberger
Government House Leader
Minister of Finance
Minister of Health and Social Services
Minister of Environment and
Minister responsible for
Persons with Disabilities
Minister responsible for Seniors
Mr. Dave Ramsay
Hon. Floyd Roland
(Inuvik Boot Lake)
Minister of Executive
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs
and Intergovernmental Relations
Minister responsible for the
NWT Power Corporation
Minister responsible for the
Status of Women
Mr. Norman Yakeleya
Clerk of the Legislative Assembly
Mr. Tim Mercer
Deputy ClerkPrincipal ClerkPrincipal Clerk,Law Clerks
Mr. Doug SchauerteMs. Jennifer KnowlanMs. Gail BennettMs. Sheila MacPherson
Ms. Malinda Kellett
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Tel: (867) 669-2200 Fax: (867) 920-4735 Toll-Free: 1-800-661-0784
Published under the authority of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories
TABLE OF CONTENTS
7-16(6) – Fiscal and Economic Update (Miltenberger)6512
8-16(6) – New Partnership Approach to Policing (Lafferty)6513
9-16(6) – Update on Mackenzie Gas Project (B. McLeod)6514
10-16(6) – Premier Absent from the House (Miltenberger)6514
Potential Shutdown of Imperial Oil Operations in Norman Wells (Yakeleya)6515
Impacts of Federal Election Results (Groenewegen)6515
Discriminatory Practices Experienced by Housing Clients (Krutko)6516
Issues Identified at Frame Lake Constituency Meeting (Bisaro)6516
Tribute to Recently Passed Tu Nedhe Elders (Beaulieu)6517
Discontinuation of Medevac Services at Edmonton City Centre Airport (Ramsay)6517
Independent Review of Leishman Incident at Stanton Territorial Hospital (Abernethy)6517
Tribute to Recently Passed Nunakput Elders (Jacobson)6518
Federal Resources for NWT Highway Infrastructure Projects (Menicoche)6518
Coalition Against Family Violence (Bromley)6519
Discontinuation of Medevac Services to Edmonton City Centre Airport (Hawkins)6519
RECOGNITION OF VISITORS IN THE GALLERY6520
RETURNS TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS6531
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES ON THE REVIEW OF BILLS6533
TABLING OF DOCUMENTS6533
NOTICES OF MOTION6535
4-16(6) – Revocation of Appointment to the Executive Council (Bisaro)6535
NOTICES OF MOTION FOR FIRST READING OF BILLS6535
Bill 11 – An Act to Amend the Public Service Act6535
CONSIDERATION IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE OF BILLS AND OTHER MATTERS6535
REPORT OF COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE6545
ORDERS OF THE DAY6546
YELLOWKNIFE, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Mr. Abernethy, Mr. Beaulieu, Ms. Bisaro, Mr. Bromley, Hon. Paul Delorey, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Hawkins, Mr. Jacobson, Mr. Krutko, Hon. Jackson Lafferty, Hon. Bob McLeod, Hon. Michael McLeod, Hon. Robert McLeod, Mr. Menicoche, Hon. Michael Miltenberger, Mr. Ramsay, Mr. Yakeleya
May 11, 2011NORTHWEST TERRITORIES HANSARDPage 6533
The House met at 1:34 p.m.
Speaker’s Opening Comments
SPEAKER (Hon. Paul Delorey): Good afternoon, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber, colleagues, as we resume the sixth and next to last sitting of the 16th Legislative Assembly.
Although this is a short sitting, I know there is a great deal of work that must be done before we adjourn next week and that you are eager to begin. However, I would like to take a few moments to acknowledge some special events in our Legislature since we last met.
I would like to comment on the recall notice which was originally issued on March 30, 2011, to reconvene the Sixth Session of the 16th Legislative Assembly in early April 2011. I recalled the House, acting on the advice of Cabinet and Regular Members, who had indicated that a Territorial Leadership Committee meeting should be scheduled to fill the seat vacated when the Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee, resigned on March 26, 2011.
Formal recall of the House would have been necessary to ratify any decision of the Territorial Leadership Committee. At a meeting of full Caucus which took place on April 7, 2011, a decision was made by all Members not to fill the vacant position at this late date in the life of this Assembly. Accordingly, there was no need for the House to meet and I directed that the recall of the House for April 11, 2011, be rescinded.
Colleagues, I had the particular pleasure and pleasant duty last week when I hosted the 11th Youth Parliament of the Northwest Territories. Nineteen high school students from each electoral district in the NWT participated and received a firsthand look at the workings of our unique system of government. I applaud all 19 members of this year’s Youth Parliament for a job very well done. Those of you who were fortunate enough to be able to join me in the gallery last Thursday, or on the floor of the House for those two Members who
served as Pages, will, I am sure, agree with me that the future of the Northwest Territories appears to be in very good hands. The level of debate, the commitment shown by these young people, and the respect the youth parliamentarians demonstrated for each other and the Assembly was impressive and admirable.
Our young leaders debated and voted on five motions and a bill, sitting through to 6:00 p.m., thereby setting a record for the longest sitting of our Youth Parliament. They tackled subjects as diverse and complex as:
· improving the quality of secondary schooling education;
· promotion of sexual health among youth;
· substance abuse programming for youth;
· increased investment in youth programs;
· zero tolerance for bullying; and
· making the improper disposal of recyclable materials a punishable offence.
It is also worth noting that this is the first Youth Parliament without a member that smoked. Please join me in congratulating our youth parliamentarians on a job very well done.
I would also like to take on this opportunity to pass on the condolences of this House to the families and communities who have lost loved ones since we last met. Please accept our sincere sympathy.
Now, colleagues, to the business before us. I look forward to a very productive session and remind you all of the standards that you have set to guide your deliberations within this House. It is now my duty to advise the House that I have received the following message from the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories and it reads:
Dear Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise that I recommend to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories the passage of:
· Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 6, 2010-2011;
· Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 1, 2011-2012; and
· Supplementary Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures), No. 1, 2011-2012
during the Sixth Session of the 16th Legislative Assembly. Yours truly, George Tuccaro, Commissioner.
Thank you, colleagues. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Finance, the honourable Michael Miltenberger.
Ministers’ StatementsMINISTER’S STATEMENT 7-16(6):FISCAL AND ECONOMIC UPDATE
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to update Members and NWT residents on our territory’s economic and fiscal outlook.
April 1, 2011, marked the start of a new fiscal year. The measures included in our 2011-2012 budget are now being implemented, including over $1.3 billion in operating expenditures and more than $155 million in planned capital investments. These expenditures will be used to deliver needed public services and infrastructure to NWT residents and will continue to support our economy.
There is good news to report on the economy. In April the NWT employment rate rose to its highest level since 2008. Two thousand additional persons were employed in the NWT last month compared with one year ago. Preliminary estimates of 2010 Gross Domestic Product released earlier today indicate that the NWT economy grew by 5.8 percent last year, reflecting a recovery from the recession that began in late 2008. Our territory’s largest industry, diamond mining, increased by 6.3 percent as production levels increased in 2010 in response to rising diamond prices. Record levels of government stimulus spending, along with a rise in private sector investment, helped the construction industry grow by over 25 percent in 2010. Finally, earlier this week BHP Billiton announced plans to invest, together with its partners, $323 million in its Ekati Diamond Mine over the next few years.
As a territory we have managed our way through the most serious economic downturn since the Great Depression. Two years ago we faced unprecedented economic turmoil that caused everyone, businesses, governments, and individuals, to review their assumptions and re-evaluate their plans. The NWT economy shrank almost 20 percent over 2008 and 2009 as financial markets tumbled and commodity prices fell. NWT businesses and industry made difficult decisions to ensure they remained viable over the longer term. It is reassuring, therefore, to see that the NWT economy has started to grow again and begun to recover lost ground.
The GNWT was no different in needing to adjust our fiscal plans over the last few years to reflect changing economic conditions. Like all governments in Canada, during the downturn we made a conscious decision to support the economy by maintaining spending levels, deferring tax changes, and investing aggressively in infrastructure. Like all governments, as the economy strengthens and the private sector re-emerges, we now need to return to fiscal policies that are more sustainable over the long term.
Since I presented the budget last February, political unrest in some areas of the world and natural disasters in others have brought more uncertainty to the global economic recovery. Recent dramatic fluctuations in commodity prices remind us that we are not out of the economic woods yet. This makes continued vigilance and sticking to a well thought out fiscal strategy even more critical.
The fiscal strategy we have adopted has served the GNWT and NWT residents well:
· We have maintained tight control on our operating costs. Our budget process has been more controlled, planned, and accountable. Annual operating spending, net of compensation and benefits, has grown at an average annual rate of only 2.8 percent over the life of this Assembly. We have set a cap of 3 percent on future spending growth and are committed to staying under that cap.
· We have maintained a competitive tax regime for NWT individuals and businesses, and not introduced any major tax increases.
· We have implemented changes to our government’s capital planning process to improve the planning, acquisition and delivery of infrastructure. Capital projects established through this new process are being delivered within budget.
· We responded to the economic slowdown by aggressively increasing our expenditures on infrastructure. Including the 2011-2012 capital budget now being implemented, we have put in place a record three-year $1.1 billion capital program for roads, bridges, schools, health centres, houses, and other critical projects across the NWT.
· This major investment in capital has not only helped to stabilize the territorial economy, it will also leave a legacy of badly needed public infrastructure. In doing this, we have been able to leverage an unprecedented amount of federal economic stimulus investment. However, once we complete the projects included in our current infrastructure investment plan, capital investment will return to its historical level of $75 million per year, starting in 2012-2013.
Our fiscal strategy has allowed us to manage through the uncertainties and unexpected events of the last few years. By sticking to our strategy, we have preserved a fiscal cushion of about $42 million at the end of this fiscal year against unexpected events like a bad fire season. The reality is that we will need to manage our way through more challenges ahead that will continue to squeeze that fiscal cushion.
· The demands for government to introduce or expand programs are unrelenting, but our revenues cannot hope to keep pace with those demands. We need to maintain discipline on our spending growth.
· Despite the record level of investment in the last two years, the need for public infrastructure -- in hospitals and health centres, in roads, and in housing -- is huge. Our capital resources are clearly insufficient. We need to find ways to finance these critical investments by finding partners in the private sector and by engaging Canada on the vast opportunities our territory holds.
The federal government is facing fiscal pressures of its own and we need to ensure that NWT interests are advanced and protected, whether the issue is the borrowing limit, territorial formula financing, funding for health care, federal program spending, or infrastructure investment. Now that the federal election is over, we need to work to get our priorities front and centre with Canada. An immediate fiscal priority will be getting certainty about our borrowing limit.
As a government, we have continued to provide quality programs and services to the residents of the NWT while making room for investments and policy changes in key areas that will benefit the NWT for years to come. We have made some tough fiscal choices over the past four years to allow us to make these investments. We know there will be more difficult decisions ahead.
The Members of the 17th Legislative Assembly elected this October will face those difficult decisions. As part of our transition planning, we are working to frame up many of the choices and options that will be open to them.
In the budget address I noted that as fiscal resources become more constrained, we all need to be clear more than ever on what our priorities are. NWT residents and businesses must be prepared to engage in a meaningful and frank debate on priorities, and balance that with their expectations of what the government can and should be doing. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. The honourable Minister responsible for Justice, Mr. Lafferty.
MINISTER’S STATEMENT 8-16(6):NEW PARTNERSHIP APPROACH TO POLICING
HON. JACKSON LAFFERTY: Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to update the House on the Department of Justice’s work to improve policing services across the territory.
As we all know, encouraging, nurturing and building partnerships is the foundation on which the Northwest Territories was built. Throughout the life of the 16th Legislative Assembly, the Department of Justice has been working on a new model for policing in the North. This model, the Partnership Approach, acknowledges our uniqueness, builds on our strengths, and fosters stronger relationships with our communities. Effective planning for police services must recognize the challenges and issues in each of our communities and capitalize on local strengths. Community policing must be developed in a way that builds trust, collaboration, and local capacity. This will naturally lead to more involvement in policing by community leaders, which will assist in crime prevention and reduction.
Yesterday the Department of Justice and the RCMP presented the details of this new partnership approach to the Standing Committee on Social Programs. The presentation outlined the collaborative work that is underway between the RCMP and the communities. This work is resulting in communities setting priorities with the RCMP to support community safety. This is how we are taking action to ensure police services are responsive to the needs of each individual community.
As an example of the success of the partnership approach, I had the honour of attending the graduation of Steven Beck of Hay River, who completed the Aboriginal Community Constable Program at the RCMP Depot in Regina last month.
Mr. Speaker, Special Constable Beck has joined the RCMP detachment in his home community. His performance at Depot was superior. Constable Beck excelled academically in applied police sciences and teamwork, and he has attained the coveted title of expert marksman. His role with the Hay River RCMP is based on the partnership approach. He has been assigned to engage with community members and leaders, and acts as the RCMP liaison for young people. Constable Beck’s passion for community policing has turned his dream of becoming a Mountie into a reality. I am proud of his accomplishments and look forward to his valuable contributions to community policing in the Northwest Territories.
As the 16th Legislative Assembly comes to an end, I am confident that our new Partnership Approach to policing will continue to further our goals of supporting communities to be sustainable, vibrant and safe. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. The honourable Minister responsible for Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Bob McLeod.
MINISTER’S STATEMENT 9-16(6):UPDATE ON MACKENZIE GAS PROJECT
HON. BOB MCLEOD: Mr. Speaker, in 2007 the newly elected 16th Legislative Assembly identified a vision of “Strong individuals, families and communities sharing the benefits and responsibilities of a unified, environmentally sustainable and prosperous Northwest Territories.” Today I would like to provide an update on a critical project that supports this goal: the Mackenzie Gas Project. This basin opening project and nation building endeavour will be a key economic driver for our future. Constructed and operated in an environmentally and socially responsible way, the pipeline will provide a secure supply of natural gas to southern markets.
Construction and operations of the project will require over 208,000 person years of employment. It is estimated that the Mackenzie Gas Project could contribute $68 billion to the Northwest Territories economy and over $86 billion to the Canadian economy.
But the benefits of the project are not only economic. One of the greatest benefits of the project will be the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The Mackenzie Gas Project will significantly contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in North America.
The impacts of global warming are being felt all over the world, and especially in Canada’s North. The delivery of natural gas to the North American market will mean displacement of dirtier, coal-powered electricity generation. Natural gas will be the transition fuel to a lower-carbon economy.
Mr. Speaker, in March of this year the federal government granted its approval for the National Energy Board’s Reasons of Decision. As a result, the board issued the Mackenzie Gas Project a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity.
Now the project proponents have the necessary authorization to start building the pipeline. The board stipulated that the project proponents must report on their decision to construct by December 2013, and that construction on the Mackenzie Gas Project must begin no later than 2015.
We welcome the opportunity to work with the newly elected federal government to address the items necessary to see this project become a reality.
One of these items is ensuring a fiscal framework agreement is in place between the proponents and the federal government. This is the one element which the proponents have underlined as being absolutely essential in their decision-making process.
Mr. Speaker, last month, while on a campaign visit in Yellowknife, Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated his Cabinet’s commitment to support the Mackenzie Gas Project. He stated that the federal government would make a package available to deal with infrastructure issues and other challenges that arise with the Mackenzie Gas Project.
The Government of the Northwest Territories would also like to see the newly formed Conservative government follow up on previous commitments regarding the $500 million Mackenzie Gas Project Impact Fund. This fund is aimed at mitigating socio-economic impacts on all northern residents along the pipeline route. Since these resources are to be delivered to a territorial Crown corporation, we are urging the federal government to establish the fund as soon as possible. Plans must be finalized with the organizations responsible for administrating the fund at the regional levels.
Last but not least, we would like the federal government to renew its financial support for the Aboriginal Pipeline Group. The Aboriginal Pipeline Group has set the bar for a new model of Aboriginal participation in the economy through its shared ownership in the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline.
The Government of the Northwest Territories has provided continuous support for the Aboriginal Pipeline Group since its inception. The Aboriginal Pipeline Group will play a major long-term role in enabling a higher level of economic independence and self-reliance for the communities of the Mackenzie Valley.
We will continue to engage with the federal government on these items and others to move this important project forward. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The honourable Deputy Premier, Mr. Miltenberger.
MINISTER’S STATEMENT 10-16(6):PREMIER ABSENT FROM THE HOUSE
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to advise Members that the Honourable Floyd Roland will be absent from the House for the remainder of the week to attend the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Nuuk, Greenland.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Sahtu, Mr. Yakeleya.
Members’ StatementsMEMBER’S STATEMENT ONPOTENTIAL SHUTDOWN OF IMPERIAL OIL OPERATIONS IN NORMAN WELLS
MR. YAKELEYA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to wish all the mother’s a belated happy Mother’s Day.
I heard on the radio about the Norman Wells issue and I want to talk about it. So I wrote about it and what I wrote is saying the well is running dry and now the pipe is leaking. The wells in Norman Wells are running out of gas. There will be no more gas for the town of Norman Wells. Now we know the pipeline is broken. What more could happen?
Imperial Oil will be shutting off its gas pumps by 2013 for the residents of Norman Wells and the gas line will be shut down for businesses by 2014. Here is what we know so far:
Imperial Oil, the largest oil and gas producer in Western Canada, has gone dry, unless there’s another significant discovery or we build the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline today.
People are faced with the enormous task of changing over to a new heating source. The people have limited choices: to convert to propane or diesel. A study was done and propane came out as the best solution. The town has approached the GNWT and requested assistance from the GNWT to invest and to involve in the gas committee. The town has received past financial and technical assistance and also received support from Imperial Oil in purchasing electric stoves for the residents in Norman Wells. As we speak, these stoves are being installed in the houses.
The GNWT undertook a study some years ago on their own facilities and started the conversion process with the Department of Transportation. Several businesses have already changed over to propane and others will require it soon.
I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.
---Unanimous consent granted
MR. YAKELEYA: Who would have thought in 1921, with millions or billions of barrels of oil flowing out of Norman Wells, this well would dry? People are left holding the bag, or should I say holding an empty jerry can, to fend for themselves. We need to find a workable solution with the people of Norman Wells.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Yakeleya. The honourable Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.
MEMBER’S STATEMENT ONIMPACTS OF FEDERAL ELECTION RESULTS
MRS. GROENEWEGEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to take the opportunity in my Member’s statement to congratulate Dennis Bevington on his decisive win, re-elected as our Member of Parliament for what will probably be another four years.
I would also like to congratulate and thank the other candidates who brought their names forward: Ms. Lee and Mr. Handley, both former colleagues of ours in this Legislature; very credible candidates. Also Ms. Bonnie Dawson and Mr. Eli Purchase, who represented the Animal Rights Alliance and the Green Party.
I would like to particularly thank Ms. Lee today. She had what was a rather quick departure from our midst and she had served with us for 12 years. I wanted to publicly today thank her for those 12 years of service in this Legislature to the people of the Northwest Territories.
Of course, my male colleagues this morning asked me if she gave me this jacket and, no, she did not.
The political landscape in Canada has changed as of the election day. We now have a majority Conservative government. It is now incumbent on us as an Assembly and those who return to the 17th Assembly to work together with that majority Conservative government in Ottawa and also to forge a stronger and closer working relationship with our Member of Parliament that may not have existed to the extent that it should have in the past.
Partisan politics is what it is. It is a reality in southern Canada; it exists. When you look at a map of Canada now, you see Conservative representation in every jurisdiction except for ours. That does not mean that we cannot still work with a governing party and with the Government of Canada in all the parties that it represents. I think this is an opportunity for us to look at the aspirations and needs of our territory, our goals, and to be very proactive in taking this opportunity to work closely going forward.
Before the federal election, Hunter Tootoo, one of our colleagues from Nunavut, and I were on a cross-country “The Current,” talking about consensus government. I guess you can be obstructionist and uncooperative in any setting and in any government, and it’s my hope that going forward in the next four years that we will see more working together in our federal Parliament and more accomplished.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. The honourable Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Krutko.
MEMBER’S STATEMENT ONDISCRIMINATORY PRACTICESEXPERIENCED BY HOUSING CLIENTS
MR. KRUTKO: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It has come to my attention that we have a Human Rights Act in place which clearly does not allow for discrimination on the basis of race, age, gender, disability, sex, political beliefs, social conditions. It’s still apparent that the word has not gotten out, especially to our front-line workers who are discriminating on the basis that the individuals who are coming forward to pick up an application to apply to the housing authorities are refused simply because they do not want those individuals to be tenants.
The Human Rights Act is very clear that you cannot discriminate solely on the basis of the person in front of you being someone you do not want as a tenant. It is very clear that the law protects you against discrimination in certain areas of your life; for example, in your workplace, in your ability to rent a place to live.
The Human Rights Act has been in effect for several years. The message does not seem to have gotten out, not only to the public but also to the public service, that we’re responsible for ensuring that we as a government and Legislature and provider of programs and services understand that we do have a Human Rights Act in the Northwest Territories.
We have to do everything we can to not only educate the public but to educate the public service of the Northwest Territories, the front-line workers and public housing authorities, to ensure that landlords and other people who have a responsibility to provide housing to residents of the Northwest Territories, that they do not discriminate simply because they do not want those individuals to be tenants.
At the appropriate time I will be asking the Minister of housing questions on exactly why this practice is still continued today.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Krutko. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.
MEMBER’S STATEMENT ONISSUES IDENTIFIED AT FRAME LAKE CONSTITUENCY MEETING
MS. BISARO: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I recently held a constituency meeting in advance of session, something I’ve made a habit of doing since I was elected. It was a very successful meeting and I heard a number of valid concerns from those who were in attendance and I would like to share those with you in the House.
In regard to legislation, two things came up. First, there was a need expressed for the NWT to have a building standards act. When any government in the NWT, whether it be local, territorial, or regional, approves the construction of a building, what governs how it is built? Who inspects or approves it to ensure that it is safe for those who will use it? Where does the responsibility lie within the GNWT to make sure that the National Building Code is followed? I was advised of a building recently built without any fire protection system because the community didn’t think they needed it. This was in a building which will be used by children.
Second, we discussed at some length the proposed Heritage Fund Act. Frame Lake constituents feel strongly that the Heritage Fund Act must provide for community input into the operation of the fund and that it should be overseen or governed by an arm’s length body, not by the Financial Management Board as the act currently states. The act also lacks any statement about the ethics of the Heritage Fund investments, and that’s important to my residents. They also told me that the act should identify the expected or intended sources of revenue for the fund. As the act reads now, revenue for the fund could come from GNWT operational funds, and that’s not acceptable.
On another note, I heard from my constituents about the actions and words of Members of this House. They agreed that the decorum in our House is far better than that in Ottawa, but they expressed disappointment with the lack of respect shown for our federal Member of Parliament in statements made in this House during the last session and during the recent federal election. Whether or not an MLA or the government supports the party or the individual who is the NWT MP -- our MP -- he has been elected by all NWT residents and deserves to be respected for that.
Lastly, I was asked to consider a novel -- novel for me anyway -- approach to how the next Premier would be chosen. Should our system not change and should I be in the House in October, my constituents want to be able to give me input on my vote for the Premier in advance of the MLAs voting for the Premier. I gladly accepted that challenge and will give Frame Lake constituents that opportunity if it comes about.
MLAs are blessed with residents who are concerned about our territory and our people and who want to make the NWT the best place it can be.
MR. SPEAKER: Ms. Bisaro, your time for Member’s statement has expired.
MS. BISARO: I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.
---Unanimous consent granted
MS. BISARO: I almost got it all in. We as MLAs would be well advised to listen to what our residents were telling us.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The honourable Member for Tu Nedhe, Mr. Beaulieu.
MEMBER’S STATEMENT ONTRIBUTE TO RECENTLY PASSEDTU NEDHE ELDERS
MR. BEAULIEU: Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker. [English translation not provided.]
Mr. Speaker, today I would like to pay tribute to three elders in Fort Resolution who have recently passed away.
Mr. James Fabien passed away Saturday, May 7, 2011, at the age of 71. James spent many years in the hospital in Hay River before his passing. James was known to have a very good singing voice, and entertained his friends and family for years. My condolences go out to the Fabien family. Mr. Fabien will be buried today, in fact, May 11, 2011. Mr. Fabien lived in Yellowknife for many years and worked at Giant Mine. He still has two sisters living in southern Canada and has a lot of family in the North, especially Fort Resolution.
Mr. Johnny Simon passed away on April 18, 2011. He was 86 years old. Johnny was the husband of the late Emily Simon and the father to Alexie, Raymond, Irene, Wilfred, Richard and Patrick. Johnny had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Johnny was very close to his great-grandchildren and grandchildren and they spent a lot of time with him. Johnny’s house was a place where the youth were always welcome. I myself would visit the household with my friends almost on a daily basis when I was a teenager growing up in Fort Resolution. Now when you drive to Fort Resolution or drive around Res, you see a whole bunch of kids at his son Wilfred’s house. I guess Wilfred is now filling the role to have a home for all of the youth that want to go visit.
On November 20, 2010, Rudolphe Frank Delorme passed away at the age of 90. Rudolphe was 14 years old when he and his siblings became orphans. Being the oldest, Rudy and his late sister Elsie raised their younger siblings. Rudy left Rocher River in his early twenties and moved to Edmonton. After living in Edmonton for 50 years he returned to the North. Rudy’s niece relocated him back in 1987. He moved back to Fort Resolution, where he was reunited with the remainder of his family. Rudy lived in Fort Resolution, in the care of his niece, and great-nieces and nephews, until his last days of life.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. The honourable Member for Kam Lake, Mr. Ramsay.
MEMBER’S STATEMENT ONDISCONTINUATION OF MEDEVAC SERVICES AT EDMONTON CITY CENTRE AIRPORT
MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to follow up on some previous statements and questions that I’ve had in this House to the former Minister of Health and Social Services pertaining to the provision of medevac services that medevac patients from the Northwest Territories receive when arriving in Edmonton for care.
The Health Quality Council of Alberta has concluded its report and come up with 18 recommendations to mitigate the loss of medevac flights to the City Centre Airport. The report finds that the move would transform hospital transport times in Edmonton from the shortest in the country to the longest in the country. Council CEO John Cowell was quoted at a news conference as saying the point we’re making is there’s a huge potential for an adverse event occurring to a patient who is caught up in a delay.
Mr. Speaker, I do look forward to the Government of Alberta and other stakeholders acting upon these recommendations, but the fact remains that the runway at the City Centre Airport that had instrumentation which allowed for flights to land in bad weather has been closed. Medevac flights are being diverted to the International Airport without any of the recommendations being acted upon. The safety of our residents is being jeopardized every time a medevac gets diverted to the International Airport. To date, 44 medevac flights have been diverted to the International Airport. Although we’ve not had a bad outcome, the reality is, it’s only a matter of time, Mr. Speaker.
The sooner a solution is found and the recommendations are acted upon, the better. In an ideal world, the City Centre Airport would stay operational; however, that does not seem to be the direction that the City of Edmonton is taking. In March the former Minister stated that she had officials that were directly part of the Quality Council review. I’d like to know how we were involved in that review, in the development of that report, and who was protecting the interests of our residents, and in going forward, who is going to be working with the Government of Alberta to ensure our concerns are adequately addressed, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. The honourable Member for Great Slave, Mr. Abernethy.
MEMBER’S STATEMENT ONINDEPENDENT REVIEW OFLEISHMAN INCIDENT AT STANTON TERRITORIAL HOSPITAL
MR. ABERNETHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On Thursday, March 3, 2011, the Regular Members of this House unanimously passed a motion requesting that the Minister of Health and Social Services immediately order an independent external investigation covering all aspects of the Leishman incident with recommendations as necessary to improve the safety and security for all patients and staff, and improve the overall quality of care for all patients receiving care with the Stanton Territorial Hospital.
Recently, I was pleased to receive correspondence from the Minister of Health and Social Services indicating that he has directed Stanton Territorial Health Authority to establish an external review committee to conduct this independent review that Ms. Leishman and the Regular Members of the 16th Legislative Assembly have asked for. I applaud the Minister for that decision.
Mr. Speaker, given that this review will be subject to the Evidence Act, I understand that it will not be made public. However, I also understand that any recommendations coming from this external review will be shared with Ms. Leishman and this government. Ultimately, the intent of the motion was to ensure that we and the health care system learn something from this horrible incident so that a similar incident is never repeated. I am hopeful that the findings of the external review will provide some closure for Ms. Leishman and allow her to focus her attention to what needs to be done now as opposed to what has happened in the past, to focus in on her son’s ongoing treatment and care.
Mr. Speaker, I do have some questions regarding this external investigation. I will be seeking some clarity and answers from the Minister responsible for Health and Social Services later today. Specifically, I will be looking for some details on the nature of the external review committee; specifically who is on it and what are their qualifications to conduct an investigation of this nature. In addition, I would like some clarity on what will be shared with Ms. Leishman and the Regular Members of this Assembly.
I do understand the importance of the protection offered to health care professionals under the Evidence Act; however, as indicated in my comments to the motion, I don’t believe that human or professional errors occurred in the Leishman incident. Rather, I feel the authority’s policies and procedures may not have been comprehensive enough to deal with the situation that occurred. The report may demonstrate this. If the concerns raised are based on the policies and procedures, I don’t believe that the protection of the professionals offered by the Evidence Act will apply, as their conduct and actions would not be in question. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Abernethy. The honourable Member for Nunakput, Mr. Jacobson.
MEMBER’S STATEMENT ONTRIBUTE TO RECENTLY PASSEDNUNAKPUT ELDERS
MR. JACOBSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My condolences to the residents who have passed away in my riding of Nunakput. I wish to take a moment to reflect on the constituents who passed away, the elders in my riding, since the beginning of my term. Constituents such as Andy Carpenter Sr., George Okheena, Jimmy Memogana, Margaret Egoytak, and Phillip Kataoyak.
The remembrance of our elders as opening a special event or discussion is an Inuvialuit tradition which I am especially proud of. I always start my Member’s statements with paying respects to the people who have passed away and their family and friends.
Since our last sitting of the Assembly we have had one death in the community of Tuktoyaktuk and a real good friend of mine growing up in the community was Thomas Kimiksana, passing on March 6th of this year.
Mr. Speaker, Thomas Kimiksana had five children: Tempess, Thomas Jr., Tory, Thaylene and Pamela. His wife, Shannon Kimiksana, and their two grandchildren. Mr. Speaker, Thomas’s brothers and sisters: Roy, Joy and Brenda Kimiksana of Tuk, Fred Kimiksana, Andy Kimiksana, Anna Cockney, Margaret and Joey Carpenter from Sachs Harbour, Laverna Kimiksana, and Beverly Ford.
Mr. Speaker, our communities are small and everyone knows everybody. In the community of Nunakput we are close knit and the loss of one person deeply impacts us all.
Mr. Speaker, lastly, I wish to give my condolences to the people of the Northwest Territories who lost loved ones in the past few months. Our prayers to them and their families are with them. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Jacobson. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.
MEMBER’S STATEMENT ONFEDERAL RESOURCES FOR NWTHIGHWAY INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS
MR. MENICOCHE: Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker. I would like to talk to you in regard to the condition of our highways in the Deh Cho. It’s a sad comment on the state of highways in the Northwest Territories. Once again, last week the Liard Highway was closed to all traffic until further notice from Kilometre 254 at Checkpoint all the way to Kilometre 38, which is the Fort Liard access road. Once again the communities of the Nahendeh region are cut off from much needed highway access. Highway No. 7 is broken and needs fixing.
Over the years I have consistently spoken on the need for work on Highway No. 1 and 7. Later on today I will be tabling a petition from 462 northern residents who are willing to sign a petition for Highway No. 7 investment.
The North is a challenging place to build roads, but with a strong commitment to regular maintenance and upkeep, our highway system will be proven to be reliable. The Government of the Northwest Territories should make this commitment and hold the newly elected federal government to its campaign promises to invest in transportation and infrastructure nationwide and to our North.
The Conservative Party promised to take action on the concerns of residents in rural and remote communities, and pledged better infrastructure for First Nation communities, and resources to help develop skills among Aboriginal people in connection with infrastructure projects. Northerners should expect dollars to travel northward, not just to build new roads but maintain existing ones, and improve the standard of living for people in remote communities across the Northwest Territories.
The GNWT needs to ensure the federal government understands our real infrastructure needs. As the new federal government prepares its budget, this government must ensure that the Northwest Territories doesn’t get stuck in the muskeg and miss the bus. I urge the Premier and our government to begin discussions and request funding for all our northern highway infrastructure. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. [English not provided]
MEMBER’S STATEMENT ONCOALITION AGAINST FAMILY VIOLENCE
MR. BROMLEY: Mr. Speaker, I want to express my support for the Coalition Against Family Violence’s recent recommendations for the Phase III Action Plan.
Since the 2003 creation of this government-NGO partnership with 21 key participants, impressive efforts have been made towards reducing family violence, the phase 1 and 2 action plans that provided the roadmap for coordinated work across governments and society. The approach is applauded as inclusive and effective. Yet, Mr. Speaker, still the problem grows worse.
With the phase 2 action plan coming to an end in March 2012, the coalition partners have assessed achievements to date and developed recommendations for government and public review in the development of the phase 3 action plan. Three major recommendations for phase 3 are familiar appeals, and I emphasize them for this government’s action.
We need improved funding for four family violence centres outside Yellowknife. We need funding for outreach, advocacy and prevention in non-shelter regions. We need more ambitious delivery of programs to heal men who use violence.
Sixteen further recommendations stress the areas of training, partnership and coordination, policy and legislation, and education and awareness. Together they make a strong case for multi-year core funding of critical programs.
All recommendations reflect the core need in reducing family violence. We must take an integrated cross-government approach if we are to stop battling symptoms and start drawing up causes. Without education and awareness, our efforts at prevention are handcuffed. Without effective legislation and policy, we can’t help victims escape violence or deal effectively with offenders. Without adequate safe havens throughout our communities, our costs of policing, justice and corrections will continue to drain funds from prevention.
As the announcement accompanying the release of the recommendations said, they are “critical actions that will help us toward our goal of addressing gaps, shifting attitudes and enhancing services.” Mr. Speaker, the Coalition Against Family Violence continues to do its excellent work, for which I am grateful, and, Mr. Speaker, the job of this Assembly is to listen and to act. Mahsi.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Bromley. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.
MEMBER’S STATEMENT ONDISCONTINUATION OF MEDEVAC SERVICES AT EDMONTON CITY CENTRE AIRPORT
MR. HAWKINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Like my other colleague today, I’d like to speak about the Edmonton airport closure. The closure of the Edmonton City Airport has alarming implications on our medevac patients. Our medevac patients already face a very long flight from the NWT to Edmonton for help, Mr. Speaker. Now their transportation time from the airport to the hospital is getting much longer. To be frank, Mr. Speaker, access to timely health care emergency services is the single most important priority I have; as well it’s of great concern to many northern residents.
In the context of the changing of the airport, the Health Quality Council of Alberta has put the facts down on the table that need to be addressed. Medevacs are now adding additional travel time. For example, a 40-minute drive to the Royal Alex Hospital from the International Airport instead of the old five-minute drive from the Muni. Mr. Speaker, as well, a 31-minute drive to the U of A Hospital instead of the previous 13 minute drive. Simply put, Mr. Speaker, driving times from the airport will be longer for seven of the eight hospitals in the Edmonton area. As we all know, defining a hypothetical outcome may be unrealistic, but, Mr. Speaker, the fact is, common sense will tell you delays mean risk. Simply put, this could mean the difference between life and death.
Mr. Speaker, the issues before us are quite simple. How is this government dealing with the potential risks and what is their involvement on dealing with these problems? The Health Quality Council studied the impacts and they came up with a 75 page report with 18 clear recommendations. My issue is this: is the government going to ensure that it takes northern input and continues to advocate our position? What will be northern input and involvement from the Minister’s point of view, because northern input is critical for a long-term solution.
Mr. Speaker, recommendation number one was to establish a transition advisory committee. Mr. Speaker, I will hope that the Minister of Health and Social Services will tell us today that he is fully committed to being involved in this process and he will clearly designate someone we know, understand and respect, to be involved in that process. Mr. Speaker, I urge the Health Minister also to see this as an opportunity because, Mr. Speaker, change is inevitable, but let’s see this as an opportunity to examine the medevac travel protocols that we use now.
Mr. Speaker, we can’t put all the blame on the change that’s happening. It’s now our chance to look at how we issue emergencies, what type of aircraft we send to these types of emergencies, and how we make the final call to have a medevac.
Mr. Speaker, let’s see this as an opportunity and do something about it by putting northern health care first. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. The honourable Member for Monfwi, Mr. Lafferty.
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
HON. JACKSON LAFFERTY: Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to recognize Ms. Jillian Huber who is a University of Regina social work practicum student who is doing her spring/summer project in the community justice division of the Department of Justice. I’d like to welcome her. Mahsi.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.
MR. HAWKINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to acknowledge Ms. Maud Robinson-Spence. She’s my summer student and she’ll be working with me here at the Legislative Assembly and helping me do my duties as a Member for Yellowknife Centre. I’d like to thank her for joining the team and acknowledge her here today. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. The honourable Member for Yellowknife South, Mr. McLeod.
HON. BOB MCLEOD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to recognize Ed Jeske, who came to work at East Three in the 1950s and we’re fortunate that he stopped to stay behind in Yellowknife. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.
MS. BISARO: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I too would like to recognize, as I said earlier, an old -- but not old in age -- colleague, Mr. Jeske. I’d like to recognize with Mr. Jeske is Vivian Squires, the executive director for the Yellowknife Seniors’ Society, and way up in the back behind me is Ms. Marty Brown, who is returning to Yellowknife after a long absence. So, welcome back. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The honourable Member for Great Slave, Mr. Abernethy.
MR. ABERNETHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to recognize a constituent of the Great Slave riding, Mr. Mark Bogan.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Abernethy. If we’ve missed anyone in the gallery today, welcome to the Chamber, I hope you’re enjoying the proceedings. It’s always nice to have an audience in here.
Item 6, acknowledgements. Item 7, oral questions. The honourable Member for Kam Lake, Mr. Ramsay.
Oral QuestionsQUESTION 46-16(6):DISCONTINUATION OF MEDEVAC SERVICES AT EDMONTON CITY CENTRE AIRPORT
MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’ve got questions today for the Minister of Health and Social Services related to my statement that I made previously. The former Minister of Health and Social Services, for whatever reason, didn’t want to get politically involved in the decision to close the airport in the centre of Edmonton, and for whatever reason she lacked an interest in getting politically involved. So I’d like to ask the Minister, she -- in questions I had to her previously -- had mentioned that the interests of residents in the Northwest Territories were going to be protected because we had people who were part of this Health Quality Council review that took place recently and was just released. I’d like to ask the Minister how we were involved in the development of that report and who exactly was involved in that. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. The honourable Minister responsible for Health and Social Services, Mr. Michael Miltenberger.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The involvement of the government and Health and Social Services was coordinated through the deputy minister’s office, who, as a former employee out of Alberta with extensive experience in the health system there, has sort of marshalled and coordinated all of our efforts. Thank you.
MR. RAMSAY: Thank you. Going forward I think it’s very important that the concerns of residents here in the Northwest Territories and of this government are fully addressed by the transition with these recommendations into a new way of doing business out at the Edmonton International Airport. I’d like to ask the Minister who exactly from the Department of Health and Social Services is going to be representing the interests of the residents here in the Northwest Territories in that transition. Thank you.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: As Minister responsible, I will be overseeing it at this level and we will continue to use the good offices of the deputy minister of Health and Social Services. We are one of a number of stakeholders. We want to make sure that collectively we have the input necessary to ensure the best service possible and we will continue to do that. Thank you.
MR. RAMSAY: Thank you. In the interim, and I talked earlier about the closure of the runway that has instrumentation and flights, medevac flights, having to be diverted out to the International Airport. There have been 44 of them that I know of. Obviously, these recommendations haven’t been put into place. There are gaps in the provision of services for medevac flights that are diverted to the International Airport today. I’d like to ask the Minister is the government concerned about this and how are we acting upon the fact that these flights that are diverted out there, patients are arriving on the ground in Edmonton without those provisions in place. Thank you.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: Thank you. We continue to be as proactive as we can be, recognizing decisions have been made. That report has just come out and there are 18 recommendations. Seven of them seem to be critical and to be acted on immediately. The remainder are seen to be that should be acted on prior to the final closure at the Edmonton International Airport. So we’ve had a long and storied history with what used to be the Capital Health Authority but now is Alberta Health Services. We have a good relationship with the services in Edmonton, but we have to recognize, as well, that there are changes. There are changes both in terms of this particular process; there are also changes in terms of access and ability of Alberta to meet our needs, and we are now having to plan for other locations such as Calgary or Grande Prairie. But throughout all this we are going to be working hard to make sure these 18 recommendations are implemented as soon as possible. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Final, short supplementary, Mr. Ramsay.
MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the Minister for that. Again, I think it’s important that the recommendations are acted upon in a timely manner and that the Government of the Northwest Territories is there in a meaningful way as a stakeholder in that.
I’d like to ask the Minister maybe just for a commitment to bring back to Regular Members of this House updates maybe five or six months from now on some progress on these recommendations, where things are at, to the Standing Committee on Social Programs. I know there’s an election coming up in October, but if there is any progress, I’d like to get a commitment from the government that they’re going to let Regular Members know about it. Thank you.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: This is a critical issue and I share the Member’s concern and the need to keep everybody fully apprised. We will do that. We’ll ensure that before this Legislature is dissolved in August that we have an update provided to the Regular Members through the Social Programs committee. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.
QUESTION 47-16(6):FISCAL AND ECONOMIC UPDATE
MS. BISARO: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are addressed to the Minister of Finance. I would like to thank the Minister at the outset for the fiscal and economic update that he provided us today, but I have a few questions with regard to some of the statements in his statement.
Initially, my first question goes to the announcement that BHP Billiton made recently that they plan to invest, along with partners, some $323 million in the NWT in the Ekati Diamond Mine as they go to expanding one of their pipes. I think that’s great news. Initially, I thought that was wonderful, we’re spending an awful lot of money here. I’d like to ask the Finance Minister if I could get an expression or an indication from him for the bottom line, because we know very well that once a mine spends money, that they then can claim it back and get 100 percent reduction on their taxes. So what kind of an impact is this investment by Ekati going to have on our revenues? Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The honourable Minister of Finance, Mr. Miltenberger.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We believe this is good news for the Northwest Territories. Yes, there is the ability for corporations to write off capital investments within a specified period of time, but it also indicates that there’s going to be more diamond production, that there’s going to be, in all probability, possibly more staff hired. I don’t have a specific number at this early date what we anticipate the benefit will be to the bottom line, but this type of investment, this type of expansion will add, we think, somewhat to the mine life, but it will also increase and have a good impact on our bottom line. When we have that information, I would be happy to share that with committee. Thank you.
MS. BISARO: Thanks to the Minister and I look forward to the information that he’s committed to provide. The Minister further on in his statement talked about the fact that we as a government and they as the Executive Council have set a cap of 3 percent spending on our future spending growth and we’ve managed to reasonably stay within that, I think, in the last little while. However, every year it seems we have supplementary appropriations, extra funding requests made by various departments. I’d like to know from the Minister what percentage of growth on an annual basis have we had over this past four years when we factor in all the supplementary appropriation requests which have come forward and have been approved. Thank you.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: Those budget numbers are contained and we stay within the 3 percent cap that we set overall. Thank you.
MS. BISARO: I guess I need to ask the Minister a written question, perhaps, to show me exactly how we reach 3 percent when we started something just under 3 percent and ask for millions and millions of dollars. I wonder why we don’t go over the 3 percent cap.
I’d like to ask the Minister as well, he talked about finding critical investments, sorry, financing critical investments by finding partners in the private sector to assist us with certain large projects. It’s well known that our last effort with private partners was rather controversial and it’s unfortunately still ongoing. I’d like to know from the Minister what will be done to ensure that we won’t enter into an agreement with partners in the private sector that will lead us down the same path that we’re currently on. Thank you.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: We’ve been doing a lot of work on a P3 policy and that work is coming before us and will be shared with a committee based on the work that’s been done to date, the feedback from committee and it will be that policy that will guide us as we move forward. The Member is correct; the $75 million that we have planned for 2012-13 is very modest, especially when you look at the $1.1 billion that we put on the ground over the last three years. So we’re going to have to use our collective ingenuity and creativity to come up with ways to supplement that. Things like the private/public partnerships are going to be a critical avenue to tap into the federal program that’s there as well as find private partners to help do projects such as the fibreoptic line. We have a hospital renovation that is coming with Stanton that is going to make the bridge look like a very modest investment and we’re going to have to work collectively to make sure we can fund all these particular initiatives. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Final supplementary, Ms. Bisaro.
MS. BISARO: Thanks, Mr. Speaker, and thanks to the Minister for that explanation. I look forward to seeing the finalized P3 policy really soon.
The last paragraph of the Minister’s statement talked about NWT residents and businesses engaging in meaningful and frank debate. I was really encouraged to hear the Minister say that. I guess I would like to know from him what is the intent of that statement, what plans are in the works, and can I get a bit of a description of what’s intended. Thank you.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: There’s been a lot of work done in the life of this Assembly on where we are going as a Northwest Territories, what people see the future is and in terms of a vision and some of the general directions. What we’re also going to have the much harder discussion as we look at government, the revenues we have, the expenditures that are upon us, the unrelenting requests for program expansions and the other pressures we have on us to try to manage our resources to stay solvent and to not go into long-term debt. So the discussion is going to be what we have talked about as a Legislature, for example, through things like the Program Review Office to look at efficiencies, but more importantly, what are the things government does, what should it do and what shouldn’t it do. We are expected to be, in many cases, all things to all people and just things like capital loans are just not sustainable with the revenues we currently have. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.
QUESTION 48-16(6):DISCONTINUATION OF MEDEVAC SERVICES AT EDMONTON CITY CENTRE AIRPORT
MR. BROMLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I also have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services regarding the Edmonton Municipal Airport closure. I have questions of detail regarding the closure and the routing medevac flights through the International. I have been informed that the original deeding of airport lands to the municipality was made with a caveat that the lands could not be used other than as an airport. Since the issue of the municipality’s discretion to make this change is fundamental to this issue, will the Minister direct staff to confirm whether in fact this was the case? Mahsi.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Bromley. The honourable Minister of Health and Social Services, Mr. Miltenberger.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
MR. BROMLEY: Thanks to the Minister. I appreciate that he does feel the same way as many of our colleagues do about this issue. I’ll look forward to that response. I won’t ask when, but I’m hoping he can do that as soon as possible, given the urgency of this issue.
Timeliness of patient transfer and treatment is obviously the core concern in this issue and I’m sure many Members here have been told of cases where minutes have made the difference in their personal survival and those of their family members. In fact, in the last three hours, Mr. Speaker, I’ve a spoken to two individuals who say they would not be here today if the Municipal Airport had not been available. Can the Minister say what definite information is in hand now regarding the impact transfer of the medevac routing will have on wait times for patient treatment after arrival?
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: We know that there’s added time to travel, that in some cases now we will need possibly additional fuel. We will have to look at alternate landing sites. We have to look at the recommendations of the report that was just released, to assess some of those recommendations. I’m sure they have potential financial impacts. We’re going to look at those, as well.
The bottom line is, there are decisions that have been made in Alberta by the Government in Alberta, by the City of Edmonton, that are within their jurisdiction and authority. They have made those. Now our responsibility is to collectively work together with them and other stakeholders to make sure that we have the best system that’s possible as a result of those decisions.
MR. BROMLEY: I’m certain that nobody here is a stranger to that 30 minute trip into Edmonton from the International Airport. Many of us have probably experienced the fog conditions, the snowstorm conditions, this sort of thing. Can the Minister say whether the report he’s had on this takes into account the impact of those sorts of conditions?
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: There are recommendations, for example, of specific sites that are going to be dedicated to medevacs being loaded and unloaded, the recommendation that they somehow synchronize all the streetlights going into Edmonton into the hospital so that when a medevac is on the way it can just be green lighted all the way down. There are those type of recommendations that are there, very specific, that have to be looked at once again by the City of Edmonton and by Alberta Health Services. Of course, we will be there to ensure and encourage them to take every effort to implement all those things that are going to make the process as expeditious and timely as possible.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Final supplementary, Mr. Bromley.
MR. BROMLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thanks for those comments from the Minister. I’d like to just confirm, I appreciate that the Minister is taking a close look at the report that’s been done, doing an analysis with respect to the NWT specifically. Would the Minister provide the results of his analysis of this report NWT-specific comments to us, to the committee?
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: We would be happy to share the results of that evaluation. We’ll do it through the Social Programs committee.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. The honourable Member for Sahtu, Mr. Yakeleya.
QUESTION 49-16(6):POTENTIAL SHUTDOWN OF IMPERIAL OIL OPERATIONS IN NORMAN WELLS
MR. YAKELEYA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to ask a question to the lead Minister of the gas issue in Norman Wells. DPW I believe is the Minister working with the town. I want to ask the Minister if the Premier communicated to him that the town council had requested some participants to be involved in their committee that looks for long-term solutions on the conversion of alternative heating sources and if the GNWT is going to play an important role in part of the town committee and this gas issue.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Yakeleya. The honourable Minister responsible for Public Works and Services, Mr. Michael McLeod.
HON. MICHAEL MCLEOD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The issue of natural gas supply in the municipality of Norman Wells has been a concern raised by the community for quite a few years now, as far back as the 14th Assembly. It became a very serious concern as Imperial Oil had indicated during the life of the 15th Assembly that they would be shutting down their supply. After a lot of discussion, which included ourselves and the Premier of the day, the company decided that they would supply another four years. So we’re on the second year of that commitment and we’re continuing to look at the long-term solutions with the municipality.
The community has done a lot of good work. They have been very proactive. They have engaged consultants and some technical expertise from our departments. I think they are moving at quite a good pace. There have been proposals submitted. There are options they have to work on, however, those haven’t been formalized and that work will continue. The Premier has conveyed the discussion that he has had with the municipality with our department.
MR. YAKELEYA: The Town of Norman Wells wants to have the GNWT part of their committee, to be involved, not just to report to them when they’re asking for a report or update. I want to ask the Minister again, is the government actively involved in the committee as one of the committee members looking at this solution to deal with the supply of alternative source heating for the community?
HON. MICHAEL MCLEOD: Within our government we have the Ministerial Energy Coordinating Committee and through that committee we’ve set up a subcommittee that involves many of the departments across our government that deal with this issue that Norman Wells is facing. The chair of that subcommittee is the regional director. He’s in contact with the community on a regular basis. We have people in attendance at all the meetings that they have. I think they had one yesterday. We had our assistant deputy minister there, along with other government representatives. As to whether they sit formally or have been incorporated as part of the municipal committee, I can’t confirm that. I certainly would have to follow that up.
MR. YAKELEYA: The town has indicated that when they go to a propane solution for the heating of the community and the residents, they would look towards millions of dollars to be invested to bring in the propane tanks and converting the whole town to that source of heating. I want to ask the Minister if he’s going to bring forward a discussion paper to this government or the next government to look at helping the Town of Norman Wells with the financial assistance to help the residents and possibly the businesses to look at converting some of their stoves, fridges, washers, dryers, furnaces, to help them with the stress of finding this new source of heating.
HON. MICHAEL MCLEOD: The community of Norman Wells has not reached that stage where they have put a price tag, nor have they reached the point where they are deciding, or in a position to decide, whether they are going to go with propane or heating fuel. There is a lot of discussion that has to take place. There are some proposals on the table with a price tag on it. There are other factors that have to be considered. The proposal that has been presented to the community does not include the residents, does not include some of the commercial buildings. There has to be further analysis and we’d have to decide on next steps from that point on.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Final supplementary, Mr. Yakeleya.
MR. YAKELEYA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just recently the pipeline has sprung a leak in Alberta and just outside of Wrigley. Now there’s an emergency to the town of Norman Wells and looking at an emergency situation here. I’ll ask the Minister if his officials are in the community as we speak today, looking at how they can deal with the issue of helping them deal with this emergency. As noted by the MACA bureaucrat that this wasn’t considered an emergency, our mayor wasn’t very happy in Norman Wells. I want to ask the Minister what he is doing to look at the emergency issue in Norman Wells as we speak today on the leak of the pipeline in the valley.
HON. MICHAEL MCLEOD: It’s not within my area of responsibility to declare emergencies within the municipalities. That falls under a different department. I can confirm to the Member that we have been actively involved with the municipality. We have people on the ground. Our assistant deputy minister was in Norman Wells yesterday. We’ve had some good discussions. Imperial Oil was also at the meeting. Enbridge Pipelines was also at the meetings. There is a lot of concern within the municipality as the Plains Midwest Canada Pipeline sprung a leak and it had impacts that affected the community. We thought those issues would be resolved as that piece of pipeline was repaired. The request was placed with the Alberta Government to put the pipeline back on line. We have since, very recently, been made aware that there is a further pipeline leak just outside the community of Wrigley. Enbridge has engaged their staff. They’re on site right now. NEB has sent representatives and they’re looking at finding solutions to deal with that. That has compounded the situation in Norman Wells.
Imperial Oil has informed us that they’re putting further tanks on line as they need to be able to store the crude that they produce as the natural gas is a by-product of their production of crude. They’re putting two tanks on the line. We expect one to be in service today and another one tomorrow. Both would allow for another additional week of supply. We calculate that there would be roughly five weeks of supply in the system, and we’re also looking at a synthetic natural gas conversion unit which mixes air with propane that would carry us through. There’s one in the municipality that’s being tested today and there is another one that is being dismantled in Calgary that will be brought up if required.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.
QUESTION 50-16(6):FEDERAL RESOURCES FOR NWTHIGHWAY INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS
MR. MENICOCHE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Earlier today I was speaking about highway infrastructure in the Northwest Territories. In the last Conservative budget they did speak about $150 million investment in the Northwest Territories. However, I’m of the opinion that it should be for the whole of the Northwest Territories. I’d like to ask the Deputy Premier how does this Government of the Northwest Territories plan to respond to the results of the recent federal election and their budgeting process.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. Deputy Premier, Mr. Miltenberger.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I must humbly ask the Member to repeat the question. I was otherwise occupied and didn’t catch the question. I will either answer it or I will refer it to the appropriate Minister.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Repeat your question please, Mr. Menicoche.
MR. MENICOCHE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to ask the Deputy Premier, given the results of the recent federal election that’s all over with now -- we have a majority Conservative government -- I’d just like to know how our government plans to respond to the results of the recent federal election and their budgeting process. I understand that the old budget that they released in March is now dead. We’ll be looking at some new budgeting figures.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: Once again I apologize to the Member for not catching the question the first time. It’s a very good, important question.
In the life left in this Assembly we have a number of priorities, as I indicated in my fiscal update. One of the key ones for us, of course, is going to be to get clarity on our borrowing limit. We also, like other jurisdictions, would like to know what’s going to be in the budget. We understand that they’ve committed to taking $11 billion out in terms of their efforts to fight the deficit and debts that they have as a federal government. We hear already that programs are being affected in the North because of that, so we have to track that very clearly, because it’s going to impact our ability in a whole host of areas depending on what those cuts are.
I know the Premier has already been in contact with Ottawa about establishing contact and opportunity to sit down with Prime Minister Harper. As well, as soon as the Cabinet is announced, Ministers here will be as well doing that with their counterparts. Either the Ministers will be confirmed or there will be a change in portfolios. But regardless, as soon as confirmation is there, we will be moving to have that discussion with the Members that are going to be responsible for those federal portfolios. Thank you.
MR. MENICOCHE: The Deputy Premier did well in answering those questions, and that’s exactly what I was looking for. I was looking for how is our government, how is our Minister going to engage with the new federal government to let them know our needs, especially our infrastructure needs. So just with that, Mr. Speaker, how is this government going to engage with the federal government to get resources for our NWT highway systems, Mr. Speaker? Thank you.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: One of the strong messages from Prime Minister Harper, when he was here, as reiterated by Minister Bob McLeod, was his commitment to look at a package that will assist the pipeline, but tied to infrastructure and other supports. So that will be one way. We all as Ministers have our work that was ongoing with the federal government that was put on hold as a result of the election. Indications from officials that we’ve been in contact with indicate that they’re still waiting for their confirmation by the Prime Minister of who’s going to be Cabinet Ministers in the government, and at that point things will start rolling again. We have all the issues we have had on the table prior to the election we will re-engage on. As well, we will be tracking some of the changes now that there’s a majority, what that may mean. There’s been a clear focus on deficit reduction. We have to find out what that will mean specifically. So we recognize that there’s going to be a turning away from stimulus to looking at deficit reduction and trying to balance the books. So we have to recognize that we’re not going to see $1.1 billion over the next three years anytime soon. So we’ll do all that work that I’ve just outlined. Thank you.
MR. MENICOCHE: I think it’s very important for us to get in early and meet with the new federal government, and I would like our government to have a strategy to plan to be down there, our Ministers to be down there, our Premier to be down there, and let him know our infrastructure needs. The Conservative government had high commitment for our rural and remote communities and I would like our government to convey that as the federal government begins their process on working on their new federal budget, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to ask the Deputy Premier his strategy with regard to that, as well. Mahsi.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: We are fully committed to that process. We have a Federal Engagement Strategy that the Premier has laid out. We will re-engage as soon as we know who the players are going to be to in fact do that. We have four months left.
I indicated one of the keys for us going forward to manage our own affairs is going to be the clarity and the conclusion of the committed to process to resolve the borrowing limit. The broader issue of the federal budget, we will be there… We have to be very strategic in our asks. We can’t go there with a long list. We have to look at what our one or two or three top priorities are going to be. But we take the Member’s concern and we will be pushing to make sure the Northwest Territories is considered front and centre. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Your final supplementary, Mr. Menicoche.
MR. MENICOCHE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. That’s exactly what I’m urging this government to do, is as we’re meeting for the next couple of weeks in their Cabinet strategy sessions, to put that on their agenda just to see how it will all unfold. I too am looking forward to whoever the Ministers are, because then we’ll exactly know who’s got experience in the North and who can hear our specific needs here in the Northwest Territories, especially with rural and remote communities and our aging highway infrastructure systems. So that’s why I would like our government to make it a priority as they develop their Federal Engagement Strategy for this new government. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. I don’t know if I heard a question there. Mr. Miltenberger.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just to support what the Member’s saying, as well as to indicate one of the other things that I think everybody’s keen to do, is to forge a stronger working relationship with our Member of Parliament to use all the tools in the toolboxes that are available to us collectively to push the agenda of the North. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.
QUESTION 51-16(6):DISCONTINUATION OF MEDEVAC SERVICES AT EDMONTON CITY CENTRE AIRPORT
MR. HAWKINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Like earlier today, a number of my colleagues both had statements and asked questions regarding the closure of the Edmonton Municipal Airport and the planes being diverted to the International Airport. As such, I think they thoroughly thrashed around the concerns about being involved in the process of the advisory committee.
I think the next phase of this particular problem, really we should use this as an opportunity and perhaps maybe a call to action to address how we run our medevac system, Mr. Speaker. Our health system would issue a tender and have protocols developed as well as internal ones, whether it’s with health boards, whether it’s health centres, on how medevacs are called, as well as things like, for example, specs of airplanes, whether they’re using props or jets, examples like that, Mr. Speaker.
My question to the Minister of Health and Social Services is as such, Mr. Speaker: will the Department of Health and Social Services do a review on how we run our medevac system from the moment somebody comes in from a health centre that needs to be addressed through the medevac protocols and then the issues of the call to the delivery of them into the health service in Alberta? Would he be doing any type of review as I’ve sort of described? Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. The honourable Minister responsible for Health and Social Services, Mr. Miltenberger.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When you look at the 18 recommendations, there are some very specific ones. Some of them will have technical impacts, logistical impacts. We are going to be looking at all of those. We are going to be doing the program as well as sitting down with the current provider for medevac services to look at any technical questions that may result. There are things that relate to the amount of gas, sites that are going to be used, the need for cross-training of crews. There’s a whole host of areas that have to be looked at carefully. So, yes, this report will necessitate a review of how we do business from start to finish as it pertains to medevacs.
MR. HAWKINS: I did have a chance to read the report and I was really glad that the Health Quality Council did it, and I want to commend them on their work and effort as well as acknowledge the staff from the Department of Health and Social Services on being involved on the ground floor to make sure our input was taken. But the report recommendations really focus on, in my view, is to once the plane gets to Edmonton and how they address those particular areas. My area of interest in my line of questioning here today has more to do with our internal process, the ones we can control and dictate. Like the old saying goes, you can point one finger but you’ve got three pointing back at you. This is our chance to look at these types of protocols we run within our own system. As I was trying to say earlier, instead of spec’ing in the contract that goes out to tender a prop plane, we can insist upon a jet plane, staffing levels, readiness awareness, things of those types of designations, the ones we can control outside of that.
Mr. Speaker, that’s the type of exchange I’d like to have here today and certainly that’s, hopefully, the type of observation and review that the Department of Health and Social Services… So I ask it in that direction, Mr. Speaker. Will the Minister of Health and Social Services issue some type of instruction to review how we do our medical travel protocols? Thank you.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: If the Member has specific concerns in the North about how we provide those services and if he’s suggesting, for example, that we change the specifications and require jets versus any kind of prop fixed-wing plane, that’s a discussion we have to look at. Everything has a cost, as well. We’re trying to manage our expenditures in this area and this is an area where the costs are constantly increasing, so we’d have to be very careful and clear. If the Member has some specifics that he thinks are worth review, I’d be happy to have that discussion with him. Thank you.
MR. HAWKINS: I want to thank the Minister for that particular answer. I think he knows exactly the concern I’m on, and I think I recognize that in his response from the last questions.
Mr. Speaker, I don’t know if I need my fourth question. My third one will quite simply be: would the Minister be willing to have a meeting with some of the industry reps from the medevac community? Again, if I could coordinate them in a very succinct way that had solutions to fine tuning our medevac process or system, would he be willing to sit down with them and discuss these types of issues and perhaps maybe we can find a nicer way, more efficient way? And recognizing cost is always an issue. That type of discussion. Would the Minister be willing to sit down with me and a coordinated group to, again, very particularly look at these issues to see what we could do to help? Thank you.
HON. MICHAEL MILTENBERGER: Thank you. There was just a meeting earlier this week among the providers, ourselves, the Health department, as a government, about issues pertaining to medevac